Greetings from the Secretary General
I am very happy to contribute a foreword to this first module in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association's Learning System created under its project on Professional Development for Parliamentarians.
Like the Commonwealth itself, the CPA over its 90 years of experience has developed a capacity for working from points of comparative advantage and providing for its members mechanisms for strengthening themselves through regional and global sharing and cooperation. One of the most highly subscribed of its professional development opportunities and certainly a point of comparative advantage is the regular series of practice and procedure seminars offered globally, regionally and nationally. The success of these ventures has required the adoption of new methods to ensure that a greater number of parliamentarians may share in their benefits. When therefore an Expert Group recommended that innovative methods be used to expand the outreach of the Association, I was very happy to take the matter to the Executive Committee and to seek the allocation of funds for this purpose.
This module is the first in a series which I hope will provide parliamentarians with the background knowledge required to assist in translating their aspirations into actions of direct practical value to themselves and those they serve.
We hope to produce up to ten modules by the end of 2003. They will be available in various forms, hard copy as well as electronic, permitting parliamentarians, parliamentary officials and members of the wider society to benefit from this specially created material. We intend to leave to each individual and Branch the decision how the material should be used but we shall issue guidance notes to ensure that this flexibility is put to good use.
This has been ground-breaking work. No such programmes with a distance learning base have been available to parliamentarians up to now. We have been fortunate that one of the members of the original Expert Group, Dr David McNeil, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, Canada, was willing to take up the challenge of laying the foundation in conjunction with academics from the University of Alberta and Athabasca University. They have created a template for further modules which are now being commissioned. The Association is very much in their debt.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom Government for financial assistance in producing the first module and the Commonwealth of Learning for technical advice provided through Mr Patrick Guiton, Higher Education Specialist.
Arthur R Donahoe